A Soldier is in the garage cleaning his pistol. He accidently shoots himself in the hand while trying to holster it.

It’s a scenario that could potentially affect the Soldier’s career.

In fiscal year 2016, across the XVIII Airborne Corps, there were 10 personal owned weapons, or POWs, accidents, with one resulting in fatality and nine in hospitalization, said Armando Alfaro, safety officer, XVIII Abn. Corps. In FY 2017, nine incidents have been reported. Seven required hospitalization and no harm was effected in the other two.

The data encompasses all XVIII Abn. Corps units — 10th Mountain Division, New York; 3rd Infantry Division, Georgia; 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Kentucky; and the 82nd Airborne Division. All accidents involved males, ages 20 to 28.

Alfaro said that in each incident, there was a root cause — alcohol.

“Any time you consume alcohol or off-the-shelf drugs, you shouldn’t mix the handling of any weapon,” he explained.

Other root causes that have contributed to POW accidents are overconfidence (involves a Soldier doing something that shouldn’t be done) and being undisciplined (not handling the weapon appropriately), Alfaro said.

Army-wide, leaders want Soldiers to know that safety must be at the forefront when handling POWs.

For instance, brigades offer POW workshops to provide safety training on how to properly handle and how to properly store weapons, he said. Leaders are given information about lessons learned from previous POW incidents to raise safety awareness and to advise service members on tactical safety techniques.

Additional safety measures that can be taken, according to information obtained from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, are to:

Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction

Unload when not actually in use

Don’t rely on your guns “safety”

Use correct ammunition

Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting

Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting

Don’t alter or modify the weapon

Have the gun serviced regularly

Those who store POWs on posts must register them at the Vehicle Registration Center, located at the All American entrance gate. Personnel living and storing firearms off-post do not need to register their weapons.

Because Fort Bragg is federal property, state-issued Concealed Carry permits are not valid.

Firearms must be maintained in safe operating condition so as not to present a hazard to themselves or to others on the installation.

For more guidance about POWs at Fort Bragg, including transportation and storage, read XVIII Abn. Corps Regulation 190-11.